Breeders' Cup Morning with The Fugue

John Gosden Walks The Fugue to the Turf at Santa Anita Oct. 31 

ARCADIA, CA --John Gosden walked along the surface of the Santa Anita main track, his stylish sneakers leaving deep tracks in the cuppy ground. Beside him strode his main hope and one of Europe's top contenders for the Breeders' Cup World Championships, a 3-year-old filly named The Fugue. Two days out from a start as the morning-line favorite for the Nov. 2 Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT), the dark bay daughter of Dansili was on her way to the lawn for the second day in a row since clearing quarantine. A brisk gallop under jockey William Buick was in store.

Gosden, who has bypassed several tempting race opportunities in his native country to target the Breeders’ Cup with his runner, strolled along with the cheery but watchful disposition of a man in charge of a very good horse. Heavy fog was lifting and the San Gabriel mountains were visible in the background, and his filly took in the picturesque scene with as much enjoyment and composure as her trainer.

“She’s a nice, relaxed filly; she wasn’t really bothered by anything,” he said with a wry grin. “I think she’s taking it much more in stride than the management team.”

The Fugue Walks Through the Stable Area at Santa Anita Oct. 31

Going about her business amidst the chaotic surroundings of Breeders’ Cup week, with horses jogging and spinning and wheeling and prancing all around her, The Fugue was the picture of good comportment as she made her way toward the wide swath of emerald green inside the main track. A group of other European contenders walked with her, but somehow she stood out above the rest. There's a real athleticism about the way this filly moves, with reserved grace and no unecessary expenditure of energy. Her motions and behaviors are the mark of pure class.

The Fugue Walks on to the Santa Anita Turf Course Oct. 31

How good is The Fugue, 7-2 choice over 11 other runners on Saturday's morning line?

"The two fillies in this race, at the moment--our filly and the Aga Khan filly Ridasiya--would be the top two fillies in performance in the middle-distance category 3-year-olds," Gosden said. "She’s relatively fresh, hasn’t run since August. I don’t think you can come to the Breeders’ Cup as an afterthought at the end of a hard campaign."

In August, the sophomore filly just missed taking the Darley Yorkshire Oaks (Eng-I) by a neck. One race prior, she won the Nassau Stakes (Eng-I) at Goodwood by a length. The earlier part of her season was not flawless; she was third in the Epsom Oaks (Eng-I) and second in the Ribblesdale Stakes (Eng-II), but she won the Musidora (Eng-III) by 4 1/2 readily, and her trainer blames a rainy summer in Europe as the reason for her misses.

"She likes the fast turf, top of the ground," he explained. "She had that in the Musidora; she probably hasn’t had it since."

Juvenile Turf Starter Dundonnell Catches Eyes Waiting for The Fugue

A trip to America is no simple step for European contenders, who must reckon with a long flight, change in environment, quarantine, and brand new surroundings and ground.

"It’s a long way to travel," Gosden remarked. "You’ve got to handle the journey, not dehydrate, then you’ve got to come in and settle into the program, all the hurly-burly here, you’ve got to get used to that and handle it well. Then, of course, you’ve the style of racing. You have to have a high cruising speed and a good kick off the end because it’s a short straight. We’re used to straights of four furlongs, four and a half furlongs. In our straight you come around the bend and you’ve got a half mile to the wire. So it’s a different style of racing and they have to adapt to it... and as always, you need luck-–that doesn’t change anywhere."

Gosden Admired the Lush Santa Anita Turf Course Oct .31

So far, The Fugue has taken every step in stride, and Gosden is pleased with her progress.

"I think it’s the right surface for her," he said. "Obviously, you’ve got to adapt to the tight-turning track--that’s another issue and often that’s something that comes with experience as well for horses, a different style of racing--but the surface will definitely suit her whereas she’s been compromised by the wet summer in Europe."

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The Fugue Exits the Turf Course at Santa Anita Oct. 31

The Fugue is a homebred daughter of Dansili out of the Sadler's Wells mare Twyla Tharp bred in Great Britain by Lord Andrew Lloyd-Webber and his wife Madeleine.

"She’s a nice, relaxed filly," Gosden said. "Her mother was very tough and competitive. She’s just a nice homebred filly, she’s got a lot about her. She’s a big frame of a filly and I think she’ll mature with time and strengthen. She’s always been somewhat of an easy mover. I’ve always likened her to a ballerina, she’s somewhat of that type. She has quite small feet and that’s why she likes the faster turf."

On the way back from her strong gallop over the turf, The Fugue visited the Santa Anita walking ring for a few scenic laps. She made quite a picture herself.

The Fugue Visits the Santa Anita Walking Ring Oct. 31

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